The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Updated: Aug 7
[TW: suicide, substance abuse, drug use, infidelity, abusive relationships]
Evelyn had always wanted to be a star in Hollywood. At the prime of early Hollywood years, this is where all the mega stars like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn made their debut. She found herself following directors and actors in a café, schmoozing them into giving her a role, where she married her first husband: Don. An over zealous husband who thought she had hit her prime therefore taking the limelight. We follow Evelyn over her life through some really heartbreaking events that lead her to each of the seven husbands she is famous for. In the present, Monique is a start-up journalist working for a magazine, who wants a lead of their own, but Evelyn specifically requests a meeting with her to discuss the impending autobiography that no-one has ever done with Evelyn. Why Monique?
I will never look at an emerald satin dress in the same way! I think it goes to say that Hollywood would never reveal everything to the world but will only tell us enough to keep up on the edge of our seat which is exactly what Evelyn Hugo's story did throughout the whole book.
The amazing thing about this book is how TJR explored every moment of a famous person's life & twisted it into one character's life which is rumored to be based on a few Hollywood stars we know so well. Evelyn is forced to analyse her fame identity with her true identity & how this effects every character she comes across. Being famous has unwelcoming decisions & triggers it onto everyone around you. She ultimately learned that after all the fame & succession that she earned over her lifetime; Fame isn't everything.
Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.
It doesn't make you happy. Family & friends is more important. This was a huge sign from the first husband, Don. It was also witnessed through many other characters that she considered close when they were at their worst & it often came up in arguments. As this lead to divorce(s), Evelyn began to make divorcing look normalised where the media maliciously fed off of her loss but made it look like a good thing. I liked how it switched between each chapter to a caption of one news article about Evelyn as we see with most reality shows celebrities often comment they are worried about the press (which Evelyn does too) leading to every decision in fame to be immortal or fake even if it wasn't.
Another notable theme in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is identity. We see in every character they are trying to protect their fame (through lies & scandal) but we don't expect the paradox of few characters with their own secrets that relates to Evelyn's choices. TJR delves into the explorations of open marriages, sexual preferences & the meaning of marriage that many other authors haven't included in a fame themed novel - not to this level anyway. A clever technique was used in the articles was the change in technology. Nowadays, there is an opportunity for Celebrities to respond via social media but before it was a one way street. There was no communication (unless you submitted a response) so people were forced to see one perception of you. Celebs are able to be more outspoken about their identity or life events to help readers capture a POV. I was especially excited to read Evelyn knowing Mick Riva from Malibu Rising suggesting that everyone knows anyone in the fame industry which is exactly how Evelyn got roles in the first place.
This book is not what you'll expect out of an ordinary fame themed novel. TJR gives you a slice of the old Hollywood lifestyle with such bravery, scandal & nostalgia that keeps you entertained throughout. I like how each novel can inter-lay with another novel on occasion like in Fantasy worlds. Another favourite quality about the plot was the twists within the POV changes & the articles for it to have moved forwards in terms of Evelyn's purpose to the book would have involved something major. It goes to show that every famous person has a story to tell which we are all dying to hear. I would be super interested to see Monique pop up again in another book working her passion she set out to do. After the second time reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, it gets better each time you read it.